In My Meditation Today: I was shown once again that the conversation that I am carrying on with God is a two-way conversation. I just have to be present and pay attention to hear it. Recently, I was in a funk. I felt tired, drained and very unsure of several life-altering decisions I had made over the past several years. Feeling unsettled, afraid and fragmented, I sought solace in reading. I had started Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” a couple of days ago. She is almost at the end of her journey when she encounters a deer who walks quietly towards her.
“It’s Ok,” I whispered to the deer, not knowing what I was going to say until I said it: “ You’re safe in the world.”
“You are safe in the world” -The words went straight to my core and stitched me up. I felt a sense of calm and trust returned. The words that come to us that we do not know are within us are the clearest evidence of our two-way conversation with God. It is he/ she speaking to us and through us. She spoke
to Cheryl in that instance as Cheryl was in the last stretch of her journey and he spoke to me through her.
The Grand Story of the Divine Mother is told in three parts. Each describes a battle between good and evil and most often the story is interpreted as the forces of good and evil external to us. A more useful interpretation for me, however, is that it represents the battle between my basest instincts and my highest potential. The battles are bloody and gory because a battle to live from your highest potential is hard and ugly and metaphorically bloody and gory.
The last post described the beginning of the battle of the Goddess with the demon Mahishasura and his vast army. In this chapter, she destroys his army
and then him. The first 20 verses of this chapter in the Grand Story of the Divine Mother describes her battles with various demons with evocative names such as Tamra – darkness and oppression, Andhaka – the blind one, and Ugrasya – the terrible lord. The battle is fierce, and Devi is fully present, involved. The demons hurl their mightiest weapons at her but she dispatches them with ease. Untouched by these battles physically and emotionally, she uses anger and aggression when she needs it but is not used by her anger and aggression. The entire army is destroyed or scattered when she turns her attention to Mahishasura. Mahishasura is not a trivial character and the sage narrating the myth gives him his due. He is wild and uncontrollable. He shakes up the earth, roils the rivers, uproots mountains and shatters them. Like all of his generals, he fights hard. He fights Devi’s army, scares them off and is finally face to face with Devi.
The conflict between Devi and Mahisha begins with her throwing a lasso at him to rope him in. As the noose falls around his neck, he changes his form, becomes a lion and slips out. As she cuts the lion’s head off, he assumes the shape of a man; as Devi showers the man with arrows, he becomes an elephant and drag’s Devi’s lion away; as she cuts off the trunk of the elephant, he reverts to his buffalo form. Mahisha is by now dizzy with his success at thwarting the Goddess; she having come to the end of her period of play with him, states her intention to finish the battle. Devi pauses to drink wine — considered imagery to suggest that she is now inhabiting supreme consciousness- while warning Mahisha
to prepare for his death. She leaps up, pins his neck down with her leg and pierces his heart with her sword. As her sword pierces him, his true form is revealed and he is beheaded by the Devi.
Several things to note about this battle. As I pointed out earlier, the sage does not minimize the strength of Mahisha. The battle is hard fought; you may remember earlier in this myth, Vishnu is said to have fought Madhu & Kaitabha for 5000 years before finally slaying them. At the same time, once the intention is set, once the decision is made that it is time to end the battle, the beast is vanquished in no time at all. The setting of the intention is like flipping a switch. The question for us is how do we flip the switch and invoke that highest self (Vishnu or Devi)to help vanquish the beast that is dragging us down?
The first step is recognizing the beast. Mahisha and his changing form represent our mind and its infinite capacity to generate thoughts that keep us focused on the outside, maintaining the fragmentation of our energy, refusing to settle into the safety of our higher selves. So we fight and fight hard. Our fragmented energy takes different forms. We point fingers, blame, yell, and scream. We judge, we complain. Anything that will keep us from turning inward. We dwell in the classic energy of victimhood. Mahisha refused to acknowledge the chaos he was creating. He focused on maintaining his separation from all that is which he thought was his power.
In his translation of this myth ( In Praise of the Goddess – The Devi Mahatmya and It’s Meaning Published By Nicholas Hays, Berwick, ME,USA),
Devadatta Kali writes
“Durga triumphs over Mahisha only when he is forced to reveal his true form. Her act of pinning down his neck underfoot is a potent metaphor because even today in English to “pin down” means to find out, to ascertain or to determine. From this point on there is no evasion.”
In other words, the switch is flipped when we finally face ourselves. When we can look at all of our fragments, the good, the bad and the ugly; the past, the present and the future; look ourselves and our lives in its entirety; acknowledge and embrace all of it and rest in our wholeness, then we access the full power of our being and the Mahisha in all his forms is annihilated. That for me is what Cheryl Strayed (http://www.cherylstrayed.com/) describes happened to her after her encounter with the deer.
“I felt fierce and humble and gathered up inside like I was safe in this world too.”
That is the destination we all seek. To be gathered up inside and know that we are safe in this world too.